Tuesday, May 1, 2007

A new Universal Studios theme park will open in Dubai

Hollywood-based Universal Studios will develop a theme park in the Gulf emirate as part of a $2.2 billion project, offering adventures based on films such as King Kong, a state-owned Dubai firm said.

Universal Parks & Resorts, which operates similar theme parks in Hollywood, Florida and Japan, will develop the park and desert area outside Dubai, Tatweer, a company owned by the ruler of Dubai, said on Monday. Universal Studios officials said that the park will feature attractions based on hit films such as Jurassic Park and King Kong.

The park will be one of the largest in the world, covering 6.5 million square feet, Tatweer said. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum owns Tatweer through his Dubai Holding.

"The investor-support environment and the convenient geographical location ... all contribute to making Dubai our location of choice for our first branded theme park in the region," Thomas Williams, chairman of Universal Parks & Resorts, is quoted as saying in the statement.

Universal Studios is operated by NBC Universal Inc., a unit of General Electric Co.

Dubai is developing what it calls Universal City Dubai, a $2.2 billion project that will include 4,000 luxury hotel rooms, 100 restaurants, and retail outlets and office space, Tatweer said.

Universal Studios Dubailand, as the theme park will be known, lies at the heart of the project, Tatweer said.

Tatweer gave no completion date for the project, but phase one of Dubailand is due to open in early 2008.

The mammoth 279-million-square-meter (3-billion-square-foot) Dubailand theme park resort will cost Dh235 billion and is expected to attract 15 million visitors a year, according to its Web site.

Dubai, one of seven emirates making up the UAE, is in the midst of a construction frenzy, with resorts, malls, sport installations, and residential complexes sprouting up across its desert sands.

Text: Reuters and Middle East Times

Photo: Bloomberg news

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